My favorite contemporary vocal group is Uncle Bonsai. When people ask me why, it's sometimes hard to explain. Uncle Bonsai (a trio: Andrew Ratshin on guitar and vocals, Arni Adler and Ashley O'Keefe on vocals) toured for eight years in the 1980s. During that time, they performed over 250 original songs -- and only original songs, with music by Andrew Ratshin, lyrics mostly by Andrew with a few by Arni. The closest thing is Broadway music, but Uncle Bonsai music and lyrics are far more intelligent and sophisticated than most of what's on Broadway. (The only real competition comes from something like Candide or West Side Story.) The lyrics vary over every imaginable topic (and then some), though the dominant themes are characters, relationships, and families. The music has a lot of close harmonies and counterpoint, with some impressive guitar work.
Enough of my words. If you'd like to see the lyrics first, go to the Uncle Bonsai web site, where they have all the lyrics online. For songs, check out the few below. Very few -- there are about 90 Uncle Bonsai songs available on CD (order from the web site) and another 70 songs by Andew Ratshin on CD, either as solos or with other performers. Most of these songs are also available on iTunes and other digital music sales sites.
Please download these files to play them, even if your software allows you to play them directly from the web, to minimize my data transfer costs. Note that these are very high quality MP3 files, much better than the ones commonly swapped on the net, and are thus considerably larger.
Here is an unreleased song. Andrew originally posted this on the Uncle Bonsai web site. As a concert recording not intended for release, the recording quality is somewhat lower than the tracks from CDs.